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I have been out of town and am catching up on my Chronicle
restaurant reviews. I just read Brandon Watson's review of Grizzelda's [Food
, Feb. 24] and wanted to say THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU (yes, in all caps) to him for the note at the end of the review about pricing and ethnic food; I think the comments posted for this review online make it clear that such commentary is really important in our largely white community here in Austin. Keep up the good work!
Mr. King’s comment that “Cities don’t erase their geographies or their histories by force of official will …” ["Point Austin: The Mayor's Tightrope
," News, March 31] hit especially close to home for me, literally. Unfortunately, and tragically, he’s wrong. That’s exactly what’s going on in my hometown of Charlestown, Ind.
In an ingenious scheme that the Institute for Justice has referred to as “eminent domain in disguise,” the mayor of Charlestown, working with a private developer, is using code enforcement to literally fine people out of their homes in the low-income neighborhood of Pleasant Ridge so the area can be “redeveloped” with more expensive homes.
Building inspectors have selectively targeted Pleasant Ridge homeowners and cited them for multiple code violations, some with fines as high as $50 per day. When homeowner(s) can’t pay the fines, they’re forced to sell their home to the developer.
The Institute for Justice has filed a lawsuit against the city on behalf of dozens of property owners in the neighborhood. And on March 30, Ms. Tina Barnes, a city councilwoman and Pleasant Ridge resident, testified in front of a congressional committee meeting to discuss the Private Property Rights Protection Act, which aims to protect property owners' rights.
Ms. Barnes testified on behalf of the more than 300 residents of Pleasant Ridge, many of whom are retirees and people with limited incomes who will have no place to go when they lose their homes. Sadly, many people have already been forced out of their homes and the neighborhood is already said to resemble a ghost town.
It’s a case we should all take note of. If the mayor of Charlestown succeeds, it won’t be long before other cities use selective enforcement of municipal codes to forcibly acquire personal property from their citizens.
Louis Black's article in the March 31 edition of your newsweekly ["Page Two: Frogs Were the Second Plague
"] is a masterpiece; just plain brilliant from start to finish and I commend him. Rare it is that we see insight so well-presented. The English professor should hold it up as writing to be emulated. The political science professor should highlight it for analysis and observation. The philosopher should revere the presentation of the choices made so clear.
Yes, it is the "time of the toad" and I was reminded of the admonition, "If the task is to eat a frog, don't look at it too long or think about it too much." It sure does seem that after only 70 days, eating the frogs and the toads is our daily fare. Like many, I already tire of it and am sure that another 1,390 days will be too much. Just as our incredulity at the shining object of dysfunction got it elected, so our blind opposition in its elected form will only feed it and make it grow. We must be smarter than that.
For this joyless Washington full of frogs and toads, Mr. Black offers the antidote: song and dance. When we can discard the frogs and toads and pay them little mind, they will not stick in our throats or get under foot. That leaves us free, and able, to sing and dance. That's what we should do.